COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES CONCLUDES EIGHTH SESSION
Adopts Concluding Observations on Reports of Argentina, China and Hungary
28 September 2012
The Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities today concluded its eighth session, issuing its concluding observations and recommendations on the initial reports of Argentina, China (including the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macao) and Hungary.
In closing remarks, Ronald McCallum, the Committee Chairperson, said that the session – the first to have a two week duration – had been a very productive one that allowed the Committee to complete three country dialogues. The Chairperson emphasized the need for the United Nations General Assembly to grant more meeting time, adding that it was heartbreaking to see that States parties had to wait a very long time before the Committee could consider their initial reports, and informed the Committee that he would travel to New York on 23 October to make that request to the General Assembly. The Chairperson thanked Committee Members whose mandates expired at the end of the year for their valuable contributions, and said that he looked forward to welcoming five new Committee members next year.
In its concluding observations and recommendations on the initial report of Argentina, the Committee welcomed efforts made by Argentina to implement the Convention through the adoption of legislation, plans and programmes but expressed deep concern at the high number of children with disabilities attending special schools and urged Argentina to formulate public policies that promoted inclusive education. The Committee urged Argentina to adopt a specific strategy for the protection of the rights of women and girls with disabilities.
Turning to the initial report of China, the Committee supported the legal protection of workers with disabilities from exploitation, violence and abuse and welcomed the efforts made by China to implement the rights of children with disabilities. It expressed concern about China’s policy of actively developing special schools and was especially worried that in practice only students with mild physical and visual disabilities were able to attend mainstream education. The Committee also expressed its utmost concern about the reported abduction of thousands of persons with intellectual disabilities and about the staging of “mining accidents” in Hebei, Fujian, Liaoning and Sichuan. Regarding the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, the Committee expressed concern about the lack of action of the government to reduce the occurrence of domestic violence and discrimination against women and girls with disabilities and urged enhancement of the active participation of persons with disabilities in politics through affirmative action. Regarding the Special Administrative Region of Macao, the Committee welcomed the establishment of the Commission against Corruption, which had Ombudsman functions for the rights of persons with disabilities but urged the authorities to prioritize a move from institutionalization to in-home or residential living for persons with disabilities.
In its concluding observations and recommendations on the initial report of Hungary, the Committee welcomed the State Party’s support in promotion and implementation of the Convention at global and regional levels. It called upon Hungary to adopt effective and specific measures to ensure equality and to prevent multiple forms of discrimination of women and girls with disabilities in its policies. The Committee urged Hungary to develop programs to ensure that Roma children with disabilities were included in mainstream education programs.
The concluding observations will be available to read in full on the Committee’s webpage from Monday 1 October 2012. The ninth session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will take place from Monday 15 to Friday 19 April 2013, during which the report of Paraguay will be reviewed, and a Day of General Discussion on women with disabilities would be held.
Concluding Observations and Recommendations
Regarding the initial report of Argentina (CRPD/C/ARG/1), the Committee welcomed the efforts made to implement the Convention through the adoption of legislation, plans and programmes, including the adoption of the law on democratization of political representation, electoral transparency and equity and the law on the Regulation of Audiovisual Communication Services. It also welcomed the creation of the Disability and Labour Integration Unit, the National Programme of Assistance for Persons with Disabilities in their relations with the administration of justice and the Centre for Health and Disability Technologies. The Committee recognized the important step of adopting the Certificate of Unified Disability and urged Argentina to adopt measures to ensure its effective implementation. The Committee expressed its appreciation to Argentina for the repeal of the Electoral Code which prevented the exercise of the right to vote for "deaf persons who could not make themselves understood in writing" and for persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities." The Committee further recommended that Argentina revised the electoral code to align it with the standards of the Convention, in particular with regard to the right to vote.
The Committee took note of the legislative framework in Argentina on accessibility for persons with disabilities but recommended that Argentina put in place effective mechanisms to monitor its implementation. It also noted that the legislative framework governing education in Argentina explicitly contained the principle of inclusive education. However, it noted with concern that the application of that principle was limited in practice by the lack of programmes for students with disabilities, as well as all types of barriers that prevent people with disabilities from accessing the education system in conditions of equality. The Committee expressed its deep concern at the high number of children with disabilities attending special schools and the lack of educational resource to support the effective participation of students with disabilities. The Committee noted that the Labour Law provided for the obligation of a quota of four per cent of employment for people with disabilities in the public sector. However, the Committee noted with concern the lack of data in this area and urged Argentina to formulate public policies that promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in the labour market.
The Committee regretted the lack of adequate protection of the rights of women and girls with disabilities and urged the country to adopt a specific strategy for the protection and enjoyment of their rights. The Committee regretted that the legal representative of a disabled woman under guardianship could give its consent to a legal abortion in her name. It was also concerned about the existence of sterilization practices for persons with disabilities without their free and informed consent. The Committee noted with concern that prolonged involuntary confinement was still prevalent in Argentina, despite the adoption of strategies of deinstitutionalization. It urged Argentina to effectively implement those strategies and to develop and implement mental health plans based on the model of the rights of persons with disabilities. The Committee recommended that Argentina developed comprehensive school health programmes to specifically include persons with disabilities and ensure their access to health services.
Regarding the initial report of China (CRPD/C/CHN/1), the Committee congratulated the State Party on the accessibility stipulations in the Law on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities, the Implementation Plan for Barrier-Free Construction in the Eleventh Five-Year-Plan (2006-2010) and the standards facilitating the use of public facilities for persons with disabilities. The Committee supported the legal protection of workers with disabilities from exploitation, violence and abuse, such as the regulations in the Law on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities, the Law on Public Security Administration Punishments and the Law on Employment Contracts. It welcomed the efforts made by China to implement the rights of children with disabilities by upholding the principle “children first” through the Programme for the Development of Chinese Children (2001-2010) and the prohibition of discrimination against children with disabilities in the Law on the Protection of Minors. Finally, the Committee commended the poverty reduction efforts undertaken by the State party, especially regarding persons with disabilities.
Despite those positive aspects, the Committee was concerned that in the awareness-raising attempts of China, the medical model of disability prevailed, which was not in accordance with the spirit of the Convention. The Committee wished to again remind China of the Convention’s model of disability and asked that it promote the concept of persons with disabilities as independent and autonomous rights holders in its awareness-raising programs. The Committee was concerned about the high number of special schools and China’s policy of actively developing those schools. The Committee was especially worried that in practice only students with physical disabilities or mild visual disabilities were able to attend mainstream education. The Committee wished to remind China that the concept of inclusion was one of the key notions of the Convention, and recommended that China ensure that more children with disabilities could attend mainstream education.
The Committee expressed concern at the overall absence of independent bodies involved in the implementation of the Convention. It strongly recommended that China revise the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons, thus allowing non-governmental organizations to represent the interests of disabled people. The Committee was deeply troubled by the reported abduction and forced labour of thousands of persons with intellectual disabilities, especially children, such as the occurrence of slave labour in Shanxi and Henan. It expressed its utmost concern about the staging of “mining accidents” in Hebei, Fujian, Liaoning and Sichuan, resulting in the victim’s death in order to claim compensation from the mine owners. The Committee strongly urged China to investigate those incidents and prosecute all responsible. The Committee was also deeply concerned that both China’s laws as well as its society accept the practice of forced sterilization and forced abortion on women with disabilities without free and informed consent, and called upon China to revise its laws and policies in order to prohibit such practices.
China: Hong Kong
Regarding the initial report of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (CRPD/C/CHN-HKG/1), which constituted Part 2 of the initial report of China under the Convention, the Committee appreciated the introduction of affirmative measures of action for persons with disabilities, such as the Disability Allowance. The Committee also welcomed the awarding of “Learning Support Grants”, under which schools received a certain sum for each student with “special educational needs”. However, it expressed concern about the lack of Government action to reduce levels of domestic violence and discrimination against women and girls with disabilities, and called upon Hong Kong to prosecute and punish all those responsible. While noting that access to Government buildings had improved, the Committee was concerned that persons with disabilities still faced accessibility difficulties and encouraged the authorities to continue reviewing the “Design Manual-Barrier Free Access” and apply those standards retroactively.
The Committee was concerned about the heightened suicide risk among persons with intellectual or psycho-social disabilities. It was also concerned about the high unemployment rate of persons with disabilities and by the low number of persons with disabilities holding public offices and the inaccessibility of some polling stations for voters with disabilities. It recommended that the authorities introduced affirmative actions to promote the employment of persons with disabilities, and urged them to enhance the active participation of persons with disabilities in politics through affirmative action and ensure the accessibility of all voting stations.
Regarding the initial report of the Macao Special Administrative Region (CRPD/C/CHN-MAC/1), which constituted Part 3 of the initial report of China under the Convention, the Committee welcomed the establishment of the Commission against Corruption, which had Ombudsman functions for the rights of persons with disabilities. It also appreciated that persons with disabilities in the Macao Special Administrative Region were able to receive several subsidies as social protection. It commended the fact that Decree-Law 33/99/M stipulated the mandatory information of persons with disabilities of their rights and the existing structures assigned to provide them assistance. However, the Committee again expressed concern about levels of domestic violence and abuse against women and girls with disabilities and specifically encouraged Macao to set up a complaint mechanism and conduct mandatory training for the police force regarding this issue.
The Committee was concerned that the right to live independently and in the community has not yet been fully achieved in the Macao Special Administrative Region, and urged the authorities to move away from institutionalization to in-home or residential living. The Committee was also concerned that the number of students with “special educational” needs in a non-inclusive environment was higher than that in an inclusive one, and by the low number of students with disabilities attending tertiary education. It wished to remind Macao that the concept of inclusive education was essential to the implementation of the Convention and should be the rule rather than an exception. Finally, the Committee was concerned that employees with disabilities only accounted for 0.3 per cent of the total employed population, and recommended more affirmative action to address that issue.
Regarding the initial report of Hungary (CRPD/C/HUN/1), the Committee welcomed the State party’s support of the promotion and implementation of the Convention at the global and regional levels. It also congratulated Hungary on including the explicit prohibition of disability-based discrimination in its Constitution. The Committee noted with satisfaction the adoption of the National Programme of Disability Affairs and the mainstreaming of disability in a number of other Governmental policies. It also welcomed the State party’s publication of the Convention in the Hungarian Gazette in Braille print, sign language and an easy-to-read format. The Committee commended the adoption of the 2009 Act on Hungarian Sign Language, and noted with appreciation the use of regional European Union funds to provide training in accessibility.
The Committee remained concerned about the definitions of disability and persons with disabilities in the State party’s legislation, which failed to encompass all persons with disabilities, including those with psychosocial disabilities, and also noted that legislation failed to state that denial of reasonable accommodation constituted discrimination. The Committee called upon the State party to adopt effective and specific measures to ensure equality and to prevent multiple forms of discrimination of women and girls with disabilities in its policies. It also stressed the importance of allocating sufficient resources to enable children with disabilities to continue living with their families in their own communities. The Committee recommended that the State party take effective measures to ensure protection of women, men, girls and boys with disabilities from exploitation, violence and abuse, in accordance with the Convention. It also called upon the State party to take appropriate measures to enable men and women with disabilities who were of marriageable age to marry and have a family, to provide adequate support services to persons with disabilities to enable them to live with their families, and to take appropriate measures to protect persons with disabilities from forced sterilization.
The Committee regretted that many students with disabilities continued to attend special educational institutions and called upon the State party to allocate sufficient resources for the development of an inclusive education system for children with disabilities. It also urged the State party to develop programs to ensure that Roma children with disabilities were included in mainstream education programs. The Committee also recommended that the State party intensify its efforts to include men and women with disabilities in the open labour market that all relevant legislation be reviewed to ensure that all persons with disabilities have a right to vote and to participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others. The Committee further recommended that the State party systematize the collection, analysis and dissemination of data, disaggregated by sex, age and disability, and develop appropriate data collection to understand the nature and characteristics of Roma persons with disabilities in general and children in particular. Finally, the Committee strongly encouraged the State party to involve civil society organizations, in particular organizations of persons with disabilities, in the preparation of its second periodic report.
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